After Hedi Slimane's debut runway at Celine last week, it seemed the negative criticisms couldn't roll in fast enough. Tim Blanks called it "a gust of toxic masculinity" at Business of Fashion; Robin Givhan said that "Slimane doesn't seem particularly interested in addressing the mundane issues in a woman's life," for the Washington Post. Booth Moore at The Hollywood Reporter wondered if Slimane could be the Donald Trump of the fashion industry.
Slimane has never been one to take critique lying down, and it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before he publicly reacted — in an open letter or otherwise. On Wednesday evening, that moment came: "5 Minutes de Mode by Loïc Prigent" covered Slimane's first collection and, in citing from several of the negative reviews, wondered if the Anglo-Saxon press in particular went especially hard on Slimane. When asked for comment, Slimane responded via email.
"It's very off-putting and I still feel like they're talking about someone else," he begins. "The spirit of the show was light and joyful, but today, lightness and insouciance are being questioned in fashion."
"I've already seen this at Saint Laurent," he continues (and, coincidentally, so have we). "There's politics, conflicts of interest and cliques, a predictable viewpoint, but also astounding exaggerations of conservatism and puritanism."
Slimane, once a fan of taking to Twitter to attack his critics himself, took issue with social media, calling it, "a strong tool for community" but also adding: "There are no longer any limits, hatred gets amplified and takes over."
Noting that the Celine collection was particularly visible this season, Slimane says that the United States and the U.K. took particular issue with his short dresses and skirts. "Women are no longer free to wear miniskirts if they wish to do so," he says. "The comparisons to Trump were opportunistic, rather audacious and quite comical, just because the women in my show were free and nonchalant. They are free to dress as they wish."
He also noted that Americans didn't like that a man took over for a woman at the head of Celine. "It's possible that there is a surprising subtext of latent homophobia there," he says, wondering why a man designing collections for women would be an issue.
In any case, he can't be too upset: Slimane finishes his statement by calling the negative criticism "unhoped-for publicity" that he wasn't expecting. "Above all, this crystalizes a truly French spirit of anti-conformity and freedom at Celine."